The three-year Africa Electrification Initiative (AEI) is developing a knowledge network that can be called upon to advise and guide those designing and implementing electrification systems in the region. The network will span both practical knowledge, and a database of practitioners in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) with electrification expertise.
is a vital spur to the progress of electrification in SSA. Less than 25 per cent of the population currently have access to electricity, a figure which plummets to below 10% of households in rural areas. The causes range from poverty and lack of funding, to inadequate policies and electrification programmes. It is not easy to overcome the economic, technical, institutional and political barriers to the electrification progress. Even where a legal framework exists, practical hands-on experience may be sorely lacking.
The core of the AEI will be a body of practical knowledge and a network of SSA practitioners experienced in all aspects of on-grid and off-grid electrification programmes.
The emphasis is on disseminating information simply and effectively, to the target audience of African practitioners drawn from electrification agencies and funds, government ministries, regulators and state, community or privately-owned utilities.
Phase I of the AEI launched in June 2009 in Maputo, Mozambique, with a workshop on ground level electrification techniques, with more than 170 delegates from 42 countries. Of them, 130 were from ministries of energy and power, utilities, regulatory entities, rural electrification agencies, research centres and non-governmental organisations representing 32 African nations. The workshop shared practical information on implementation issues, created a network of electrification practitioners, identified challenging areas and defined follow-up activities and ways of disseminating knowledge in the long-term.
Phase II will consolidate the insights gained in the workshop with an interactive website, allowing information sharing and featuring an archive of practical operational documents. It will also provide technical papers on key topics.